Dear Roker Report,
Sunderland are attempting to win League One, and in doing so it is understandable that they have relied upon more experienced players.
Sunderland have done a fairly good job at trying to give a couple youngsters some game time with the first team, but they have certainly not totally committed to youngsters.
Two things seem a little worrying related to the academy.
First, while several academy players have played, it should be kept in mind Honeyman, Watmore, and Gooch all have played at higher levels and all are not youngsters in the academy sense. They are twenty-three and above, they have been around the first team for years. Even Hume is twenty-two. He is not an eighteen year old breaking through the academy.
Is it perhaps worrying that other than Mumba, there have not been many reserve players who have made it into the first team multiple times? Does it indicate that the academy, after moving on several U23’s perhaps was not preparing players with enough quality?
Secondarily, it seems quite a few of Sunderland’s academy players have moved onto Premier League academies. While I have read of some players being taken on trial, I have not read of any signings. Should fans worry about subsequent academy generations losing talent that is not replaced?
I don’t mean to state this in an accusatory manner. It is meant to be an enquiry into whether these losses are being replaced with talent, or if there seems to be a plan to combat this poaching, or to supplement the academy with talents from around Britain?
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I’m actually pleased with how we’ve managed to establish academy graduates as first team players this season. At Wembley we had Hume, Gooch and Honeyman out on the pitch. I actually think age is slightly irrelevant - Hume has developed slightly later, so whilst he’s older than say Mumba he’s just making his start to life. Whether he’s 22 or 18 matters not a lot.
Then, of course, there’s been the emergence of Benji Kimpioka. He’s raw but highly thought of - he’ll have learned a lot from his experiences this season, and he was trusted to come on in the game with Burton to help add some spark to our attack.
We must also look to the lads who have gone out on loan. Whilst they haven’t been afforded first team football here they have been allowed to flourish and develop elsewhere. In the past we just didn’t loan these lads out, not for significant lengths of time anyways. Elliot Embleton has been a star performer for Grimsby in League Two and that should propel him to being a first team squad member here next season - provided he signs a new deal, of course.